Pride of US navy visited, before Pearl Harbour role

The American cruiser USS New Orleans visits Portsmouth in June 1934
The American cruiser USS New Orleans visits Portsmouth in June 1934
Share this article
Artist Jean Tayler talks to her therapist Shirley Mungapen about her paintings

THIS WEEK IN 1975: For her, success is something special

Have your say

On June 12, 1934, the United States cruiser USS New Orleans paid a visit to Portsmouth, seven years before she came under attack in one of the most famous battles of the Second World War.

The huge vessel was the first of the new Astoria class ships and had been built at the New York navy yards.

The 10,000-ton heavy cruiser is seen here alongside at Portsmouth with her complement of two Curtis Seagull aircraft.

New Orleans was moored in Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the US Pacific fleet.

Her engines were being repaired and she was taking power and light from the dock which was knocked out during the attack.

On deck her sailors fired on the Japanese aircraft with rifles and pistols but they were forced to break the locks on the ammunition-ready boxes as the keys could not be found.

The gunners ducked machine gun bullets and shrapnel, training their guns by sheer guts and sweat.

They had no ammunition other than the few shells in their ready boxes. The ammunition hoists had no power making it nearly impossible to get more ammunition topside to the gun crews.

The 54lb (24kg) shells had to be pulled up the powerless hoists by ropes attached to their metal cases. Every man with no specific job formed ammunition lines to get the shells to the guns.

Several of her company were injured when a fragmentation bomb exploded close by but the ship suffered no severe damage during the attack.

New Orleans received 17 battle stars for her Second World War service, placing her among the highest decorated ships of the 1939-1945 war.